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Helen Isolde Thomas, SUNY Geneseo Retiree, Sequel

SUNY Geneseo Retiree Writes Sequel to Popular Holiday Season Book

Helen Isolde Thomas, Grants Writer Emerita from the State University of New York at Geneseo, didn't really have a solid plan for what she wanted to do when she retired in December 2013. Then the phone rang. The caller wanted to know if she still had any copies of a booklet she wrote and self published 20 years ago. How to Have a Perfect Christmas was written in 1994 and self-published the old-fashioned way in 1995; printed at home on cardstock, bound with a length of red silk ribbon and marketed through local bookstores and gift shops. Boasting local sales of over 1,000 copies that year, Helen’s book was purchased and produced in 1996 by Dutton with an added introduction and the lengthened title, How to Have a Perfect Christmas: Practical and Inspirational Advice to Simplify Your Holiday Season.

After that, her writing talents were focused on her job when she started at Geneseo as a Grants Writer, except for small pieces she contributed to newsletters, magazines, and other people’s books. Helen occasionally considered reviving her Christmas book, but did not do so until she got that call in 2013. The caller echoed sentiments Helen had been hearing for years, “We take your book out every year and enjoy reading it as a family,”

The answer was "No," she didn't have any copies left of the original book, but the question inspired her to begin writing anew, and the result is her recently published collection of eighty essays, Another Perfect Christmas: The Perfect Gift. Her message: “Your Christmas will be perfect because you are a key part of it, not because you polished the silver to a satiny gleam or mastered the art of making gourmet butter cookies, but because it is infused with your being, your love, and your presence." Dubbed the “anti-Martha Stewart” by a Rochester, New York newspaper in 1995, Helen insists that her goal is not to diminish the holiday, but to enhance it. Her inspiration comes from the fact that she really loves Christmas and hates to see people get too stressed out to enjoy it.

Helen's daughter, Emily A. Daniels, Ph.D., an Assistant Professor at SUNY Plattsburgh, says this about the book; “Part pop culture, part trivia, part memoir, part critique, and part practical advice, Another Perfect Christmas, touches a chord in all who have ever celebrated the holiday in grand or less than grand fashion. Thoughtful and thought-provoking, it brings the reader around to a mindful review of all that we do that makes this annual festival a good or not-so-good experience for ourselves and all around us.”

Another Perfect Christmas is available on New and used copies of her first holiday season book, How to Have a Perfect Christmas: Practical and Inspirational Advice to Simplify Your Holiday Season, may also be found on the site.

Now Helen is thinking about what she might do next year.

Helen Isolde Thomas, SUNY Geneseo Grants Writer Emerita, recently wrote

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